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MPs criticise 'waka jumping' as Horan stays on

Published: 11:06AM Wednesday December 05, 2012 Source: ONE News

The Prime Minister has stopped short of calling for MP Brendan Horan to leave Parliament, but like a number of senior MPs is critical of so-called "waka jumping".
Horan is back in Parliament after he was kicked out of New Zealand First yesterday following allegations, which he denies, that he stole money from his late mother's bank account.  

Horan was on the New Zealand First party list and has a right to stay in Parliament as an independent MP, sparking a new debate in the corridors of power on whether he has a mandate to continue as an MP.

Under MMP, around half of MPs enter Parliament on a list chosen by the party, rather than being directly elected to a seat.

United Future leader Peter Dunne says if list MPs leave a party they should leave Parliament altogether.

Key says if NZ First leader Winston Peters can back up the case that Horan deserves to be expelled from the party and has brought Parliament into disrepute, Horan would not have a mandate to stay on.
"But the issue is can and will he prove that," Key said.

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia famously "waka jumped" when she left the Labour Party and she has some sympathy for Horan.

"We would be supportive to him. I know what it's like to be here on your own and to be isolated and I wouldn't like to see that happen to him," Turia said.

When last in power, Labour introduced a law to block so-called waka jumping after Alamein Kopu left the Alliance. But the law has since lapsed.

Labour deputy leader Grant Robertson says it's a difficult area to legislate for.

"It is difficult to make law in this area that's fair [and]  takes account all of the possible ways that someone may no longer be an MP representing a party. If we could get the work done I think Parliament could come up with a consensus on a law," Robertson said.

ONE News political editor Corin Dann says with two separate investigations into New Zealand's parliamentary system there is plenty of scope for the Government to push for changes on waka jumping if it wants.

Dann says he spoke with Horan for quite some time today in his new parliamentary office. Dann said Horan is "pretty shell-shocked" by what is going on and would like to tell his side of the story but has been advised by his lawyers not to talk.

As an independent, Horan will have a vote in Parliament and could find himself "chased and courted" for his vote if a party needs it on a particular issue, Dann said.

He said there was "jostling" today over who might provide a proxy vote for Horan which would allow him to vote while not present at Parliament.

Dann said it was interesting that a number of MPs have talked about the concept of natural justice, given that we have not seen the nature of the allegations against Horan in any detail yet. There is "a little bit of pressure" coming on Peters now to provide those allegations, Dann said.